BOXING

Hearn: Joshua will be eager for Usyk revenge but needs "big changes"

Anthony Joshua was well beaten by Oleksandr Usyk after an "average" performance in his defeat to the Ukrainian, says fight promoter Eddie Hearn.

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Joshua will want Usyk rematch but must make big changes, says Hearn

Anthony Joshua will be eager to avenge his points defeat to Oleksandr Usyk but will "have to make some big changes" if he is to win a rematch, says Eddie Hearn.

Usyk claims unanimous-decision win over Joshua in London

In just his third fight since stepping up to heavyweight, the unbeaten Usyk produced a clinical performance to beat home favourite Joshua in London and claim the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.

The Ukrainian's crisp punching and classy footwork saw him deservedly get the nod from all three judges at ringside, improving his record to 19-0 as a professional, having already been the undisputed champion in the cruiserweight division, too.

Joshua did not immediately give an in-ring interview in the aftermath of just a second career defeat, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York in June 2019.

Hearn: "The better man won"

The Briton bounced back to reclaim his belts from the same opponent and could opt to try to do the same again with Usyk, though Hearn feels the tactics will need to be different if the outcome is to change second time around.

"Congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk, what a fighter. He put in a great performance tonight and the better man won," the promoter told Sky Sports.

"It was really the danger of the fight, you overthink it and try to be too technical and don't make your mark early enough in the fight. Usyk is very fit, has great feet and threw a lot of punches in there.  

"It was all the things you worry about against a fighter like Usyk. He exercised his style very, very well, was probably a bit more aggressive than anticipated. He was really good tonight and goes down in history. 

"No complaints from AJ, he will get up and go again. He is already talking about training again on Monday, but this is a tough defeat.

"This was getting beat by a pound-for-pound fighter. We've been here before in Madison Square Garden, but that was different. This is just being beaten by a better man on the night

"You have to make some big changes in the rematch to avenge that defeat."

Hearn added: "Usyk was the deserved winner and if that happens again, he [Joshua] gets beaten. He's got to impose himself early, though it's going to be difficult because Usyk's confidence is going to be sky high.  

"When you get to the level that Joshua has, as we saw after the Ruiz defeat, there is no 10-round comeback fights, no warm-ups. You go straight back in

"He will want to go straight into that rematch. He will be an underdog after tonight, but this is what he does. He chose to take on a pound-for-pound great and deserves credit for that."

Joshua had seemingly been set to face Tyson Fury, only for that unification showdown to be scuppered by an arbitration ruling.

WBC champion Fury was ordered to take on Deontay Wilder for a third time instead, with that trilogy bout booked for 9 October in Las Vegas. 

Joshua "won't fall out of love" with boxing despite "average" display, says Hearn

While a future showdown with Fury may be off the table for now, Hearn made clear that Joshua has lost none of his desire, despite what he described as an "average" display against Usyk.

"He lives and breathes boxing. Boxing saved him, boxing made him - he won't fall out of love with the game," Hearn stated.

"When you do, it's time to walk away from the sport. The desire is still there, it will be there, but you can have that, you've got to be good enough. 

"He will know when he watches that back. That, for me, was an average performance from Joshua. He can do so much better in that fight, but this is what happens in this sport. You can criticise him but he's facing the best consistently."